50 Years of Auckland Regional Parks

by Merv Hood

Hunua Falls

Friends of Hunua Ranges Chairman Merv Hood has been involved in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park almost since it's inception and therefore was the natural person to turn to to give us a summary of things as we approach 2016 - the year that we celebrate 50 years of Regional Parks in Auckland...

2016 marks 50 years since the vision that brought us the magnificent jewels in the crown of Auckland with the opening of Wenderholm Regional Park. This started off the network of Regional Parks that are such an integral part of the fabric of Auckland's life.

From places to sit beside the sea, to walk or ride in the bush, to marvel at the incredible power of nature, to being amazed by the tenacity of flora and fauna trying to maintain a foothold in the region, often despite all that we can throw up to impede it. Nowadays we do try and halt the decline and in the case of some headline creatures such as the Kokako we seem to be able to halt and reverse the trend towards oblivion. Fortunately the work undertaken to assist the Kokako and others very often helps the unseen and unspoken, the insects and invertebrates, the plants under pressure, most of these are quite happy to hitch a ride and maybe that is the way it has to be for it is easier to sell the idea of helping something as amazing as the Kakoko but try selling the idea of helping a native cockroach. The problem is that without that full biota it can sometimes be impossible to assist a headline species.

One of the big challenges ahead is to better develop the full understanding of just what we have, what needs to be done to assist it and how we can coexist. Unfortunately until we have this information worthy goals such as bringing back Kiwi and therefore the opportunity of a family being able to go to their park and hear our national bird can only be a dream.

It might seem impossible however being around for much of the time since the park network started all those years ago I know just how many dreams have turned into reality as well as how much work has gone into what we have today, almost all our current parks in the network had a small group of people see the potential for one of their special places and over time managed to convince sufficient people of the wisdom of their ideas. Such was the start of the Hunua Ranges Regional Park, a dream some 40 years ago and the question “Why Not”. The context may have changed but the question is still there.

The challenge now is not so much to open steel gates (although there are still several of them that are still locked) but to open doors to knowledge and opportunity. These doors can often need major financial impetus and the challenge might be as much where to find these funds as the actual question itself. Still if the likes of Phil Jew and others had not risen to the challenges they had to face we would not be where we are today.

Each of us needs to look at the situation from our own perspective, maybe we have a bit of time we could donate to help with a bait line, maybe you have a garden where you could install a Weta Hotel as part of a package we have brought where you keep one and the other 9 are used in the Park or possibly a stoat box. Or maybe you have the chance to influence a larger donation. The one thing we can all do is consider our stance on local body finances, calls for prudence with our rates are fine but not at the detriment of the environment and it's inhabitancies who's voice may not be as loud as some of ours.

You can either contact Southern Parks direct, bail up the next Ranger you see, subscribe to our eNewsletter for regular updates on volunteer opportunites or drop us an email and find out just how you can make a difference.

Mervyn Hood 


Our supporters
  • Big Foot Adventures
  • Auckland MTB Club
  • Kokako Recovery Project
  • Auckland Council
  • AristCake
  • Jet iT
  • Jet Park Airport Hotel